40th Birthday Reflections – What Makes Me Happy?

20 Oct

Today is my 40th birthday, and I’ve been reflecting on the last four decades and the amazing journey I’ve had so far. My life has been incredibly enriched by the wonderful people around me, and I’m exceedingly grateful for them. I feel so blessed to have good health, energy and enthusiasm. Though not without its challenges, struggles and disappointments, my life has been very happy and I look forward to the next 40 years with great excitement and anticipation. So many new mountains to climb — literally and figuratively.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes people happy. Happiness is universally sought after but often elusive for many. Often we point to the lack of money, possessions or leisure time as a reason we are not happy. While these things help, there are many who have more than enough of all of these things who are extremely unhappy, while there are many who have next to nothing who live very joyful lives.

I believe that our level of happiness and personal fulfillment and satisfaction are closely related to how well we are able to follow our passions. Our happiness also depends on how well we are able to help those around us to find and follow their own passions. If we choose to be anxiously engaged in activities that we are passionate about, we are happy. Our passions help us meet our core needs. Inasmuch as we’re filling those core needs for ourselves and helping those around us meet their core needs, we find happiness.

I recently took some time to reflect on my passions — what really drives me, what I get excited about. Through this process, I came to understand myself better and it has helped me understand others better as well. Here’s the process I recommend:

1. Ponder on the things that you really love doing: your passions. These are things that get you most excited about, that you just love to do. These are activities that you don’t have to be prodded or nagged to do, they are pleasurable to you on many levels. Make a list of those things.

2. Now think about WHY those things are interesting and exciting for you. What core needs do those passions fill for you? Make a list of those things.

3. Finally, think about what you want to do with your passions in the future. What are your goals, dreams and aspirations that you’ll achieve by following your passions and fulfilling your core needs? List these things.

Here are my results from doing this activity.

Core Needs

  • Accomplishment/Achievement
  • Attention/Admiration
  • Adventure/Novelty
  • Connection

Resulting Passions

  • Performing
  • Teaching
  • Travel
  • Fitness
  • Social Interaction

Goals and Dreams

  • Build an awesome marriage
  • Raise a righteous family
  • Serve others with love
  • Travel the world
  • Participate in fitness events
  • Sing in choirs and smaller groups
  • Perform in plays and musicals
  • Organize reunions and social events

Here are a couple of examples of things I’m passionate about and why.

Over the past three years, I’ve done two marathons (Utah Valley in 2011 and Top of Utah in 2013), two Wasatch Back Ragnar Relays (regular team in 2011 and ultra-team in 2012) and two triathlons (Salem Sprint and Rock Cliff at Jordanelle Olympic in 2014). In analyzing why I’ve enjoyed these racing experiences, I realize it’s because they help fulfill multiple passions. When I finish a race, I feel a sense of accomplishment and I experience a great sense of adventure as I explore new places. My dog Buddy and I are constantly exploring the hills behind my house, and I hike in the mountains whenever possible. I just love to exercise and explore this amazing world.

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It is my passion for adventure/novelty that drives my intense desire to travel all around Utah, the USA and to foreign lands.

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It is my core need for attention/admiration that drives my passion for the theater. There’s nothing quite like entertaining an audience — all eyes are on me and I’m bringing audience members laughter and enjoyment. It’s an adrenaline rush that’s hard to explain.

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It is my need for connection that makes me passionate about organizing special reunions for family, high school and mission. It is that need for connection (and also my need for attention/admiration) that drives my active participation on Facebook, and to a lesser extent now, this blog. It is my need for connection that gets me excited about technology like iPhones, texting, email, social media and video chats. My need to make a connection with the past drives my passion about preserving audio visual memories through archiving family videos, writing blogs and taking pictures. Learning about history is one of my greatest passions, and I love learning about what life was like for my ancestors.


I am also passionate about constant self-improvement, and that’s why I find the gospel of Jesus Christ to be so beneficial in my life. It teaches me how to be a better man and inspires me to make good choices that will lead to positive outcomes. I am passionate about serving in the Church and helping my fellow brothers and sisters along this journey of life.

At the end of the day, it is my family that I’m most passionate about. They help fulfill all of those core needs above and I’m so grateful that I have them in my life. My 40 years have been so much better because of them! I hope that I can help them find and follow THEIR passions!


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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Spirituality


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